Planning Minister responds to Cobden's airport's wind farm concerns

Victoria’s Planning Minister says he will look into the potential impacts of a planned wind farm near Cobden’s airstrip.

Speaking in parliament this week, Richard Wynne said the airstrip, which would be located a few kilometres from the planned Naroghid wind farm, was a significant asset for the region.

“The protection of significant assets such as an airport are very critical in country Victoria, and I am very aware of their importance, particularly in relation to medical evacuations and so forth,” Mr Wynne said.

“I will take that matter up, and my office will be in touch on that application and where it is actually at in the process.”

Alinta Energy has submitted plans for the 12-turbine wind farm to the state government, although it has been on the drawing board for more than a decade. The $100 million project would place 180-metre-high turbines within about 2.5 kilometres of the airfield.

The airport, the only one of its kind in the Corangamite region, would struggle to survive if the project went ahead in its current form, the strip’s user groups say.

Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan raised the issue with Mr Wynne in parliament, saying the wind farm would put the airstrip’s future at “extreme risk”.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

“Pilots and the local community have told me the value of the airfield will be dramatically reduced. Cobden does not have an on-call doctor service, so an airfield capable of airlifting people to safety is important,” he said.

“Cobden is also the closest airfield to the iconic Twelve Apostles and home to a vibrant aero club. Recent years have seen considerable upgrades in Cobden.”

Addressing Corangamite Shire’s council meeting this week, Cobden Aero Club’s Duncan Morris explained to councillors the potential impact of the wind farm.

“If this goes ahead, this shire, this council, will end up sitting around here one day making a decision around their duty of care to allow it to even operate. I think it’s as serious as that,” he said.

“We would never again have the air ambulance land there, that’s the fixed wing air ambulance. We would never ever get the fire bombing opportunity off the ground. There will just be virtually no valuable use of that strip at all.”

Corangamite CEO Andrew Mason said shire officers were looking into the wind farm application and the council likely vote on a submission to the plan at its December meeting, before submissions close on December 22.